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Calexico Schools Anxiously Await Federal Aid



Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is asking the federal government for nearly five billion dollars in economic stimulus money for California schools. School officials in the Imperial Valley hope the money will save teaching jobs there. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis has more.

The Calexico Unified School District is the Imperial Valley's with largest school district with more than 9,200 students. The district is struggling to plug a five million dollar state funding shortfall. More than 100 out of 500 teachers got layoff notices.

Carmen Durazo is with Calexico's teachers union. She says the valley's housing collapse and the district's money problems are devastating.

“Some teachers are losing their homes, some new teachers that purchased their homes too soon,” Durazo said. “Some of them are relocated from other areas and they have nothing. They have no job to go back to. Everyone is a professional and does their best, but when (teachers) are trying to juggle a very difficult economic situation at home, it has to show (in the classroom)."

Earlier this year the school board decided to layoff all of its administrators except the superintendent, but the panel backtracked on that.


The Calexico Unified School District has the most to lose in the Imperial Valley. School bus transportation and purchases of new textbooks have been cut back. Durazo says the district is also struggling to afford the basics. 


“Important things like paper,” Durazo said. “Think of student without paper. And we have three more months of schools left and we do have not paper. There are no purchase orders going out. And so that is serious economic impact on students, and their knowledge and their learning.” 


And Durazo says the district can't afford to waste any time with their students, most of who speak Spanish and come from poor families. The Governor says the federal money could help districts like Calexico keep jobs and programs. 

Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.


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